Our young grandchildren love to look at pictures and videos of family life. Quite often they will swipe past one that holds little interest. Quite often they play and play again one that does. What determines their interest (or lack of) is hard to define – the reason seems to change day by day.
Odd how certain memories surface when reading the bible verses. Today is “Thursday 22 February, The Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle” day (says my online daily verses). I have no idea what that means. Except the verses are these today:
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” “ Matthew 16:13-19
The “rock on which my church is built” verses.
A lineage talked of in today’s church – and a lineage no different to the “family tree” bits in the bible (that bore me rigid). They seem less illuminating than “validating” – proof of why I should have faith – a traceable lineage (and evidenced family tree) right back to the “beginning”. A reason to believe: that is why the bible has legitimacy.
And that argument has never held my attention either.
What God and Jesus was /were to the bible peeps may or may not be true. May or may not be written as a “document of agenda”. May or may not be written as a “keep them in line” document for a particular nation (amongst many nations). May or may not be believed depending upon factors as unique as each of us human beings is unique. And yet … I find it a source of personal challenge – challenge by choice – choice to choose – choosing what this bible means to me right now this very cold February 2018 morning.
I hear the question this morning: “Who do people say I am?” And I hear the range of answers on a scale from conspiracy theory to factually perfect. I hear the range of emotion from dismissive to adoration. I see the division this bible causes. I see and hear the noise.
I hear the second question: “But who do you say I am?” And I hear only my heartbeat, my breathing, my skin against my own clothes. I read of one who cares not what others think. Who cares only for what I think. Who cares not for the right answer, but for my answer. Who cares not for me to hide behind the academia of others, but to stand naked and confident in my own knowing, my own experience, and my own truth. A changing knowing, experience and truth.
Pete’s answer is not my answer. Nor should it be yours. Or else we are hiding behind the assumed wisdom – perpetuated always – of the Institution of Church. And I do not see that “Institution” as the “church” mentioned here. And I used to echo the plaudits and assumed wisdom and have no bone to pick with those who still do.
But I would invite a fresh look at these verses – of all the verses in the whole bible.
I would ask whether your reading of these verses has changed. Whether your reading of the bible changes. Whether it challenges you. Whether you hear a personal invitation of choice to choose. A choice without wrong or right. A choice of more questions than answers. But a choice of freedom and love without any need for “the answers” – wrong or right.
“But who do you say I am?”
Is about me. Not Simon Peter nor you. Challenges me to walk my own path not yours. Allows me to change as I follow my own path. Allows me the freedom NOT to be right or wrong – but to be me. Always.